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Huge Global Study in the Lancet: There Is No Safe Limit in the Consumption of Alcohol (And the Prohibition of Alcohol in the Qur'an)
Posted by Abu.Iyaad, Editor in Shariah
Topics: Alcohol

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Allah the Exalted said in the Qur'an:

يَسْـَٔلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلْخَمْرِ وَٱلْمَيْسِرِ قُلْ فِيهِمَآ إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ وَمَنَٰفِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَإِثْمُهُمَآ أَكْبَرُ مِن نَّفْعِهِمَا

They ask you concerning alcoholic drink and gambling. Say: "In them is a great sin, and (some) benefit for men, but the sin of them is greater than their benefit." (2:219)

The Qur'anic Commentator, Imam al-Sa'di (d. 1376H) said about this verse in Taysir Karim al-Rahman (Cairo: Dar al-Hadith, 2/89):

God ordered his Prophet to explain to them the benefits and harms of alcohol and gambling, so that this [explanation] could serve as a precursor for their prohibition and emphatic abandonment. So He informed that their sin and harm and what arises from them of the loss of [the faculty] of reason and [loss of] wealth, and hindrance from the remembrance of God, and from prayer, and the [creation of] enmity and hatred, [all of this] is greater than what they presume of their benefits, such as the acquisition of wealth through trading in alcohol and acquiring it through gambling and the pleasure attained by the souls when engaging in them both. This explanation was to deter the souls from [alcohol and gambling], because the intelligent person chooses that in which his beneficial interest is greater and shuns that in which harm to him is overwhelming. However, because they had been accustomed to these [two habits], and strict abandonment at the beginning would have been shocking to them, this verse preceded the verse of prohibition.

The paper was published in the Lancet journal (link to PDF) and this is a summary of the findings.

Alcohol use is a leading risk factor for global disease burden and causes substantial health loss. We found that the risk of all-cause mortality, and of cancers specifically, rises with increasing levels of consumption, and the level of consumption that minimises health loss is zero. These results suggest that alcohol control policies might need to be revised worldwide, refocusing on efforts to lower overall population-level consumption.

Here is sample coverage of the study (source):

(CNN) - If you're one of the third of all humankind who drinks alcohol, take note: There's no amount of liquor, wine or beer that is safe for your overall health, according to a new analysis of 2016 global alcohol consumption and disease risk.

Alcohol was the leading risk factor for disease and premature death in men and women between the ages of 15 and 49 worldwide in 2016, accounting for nearly one in 10 deaths, according to the study, published Thursday in the journal The Lancet.

For all ages, alcohol was associated with 2.8 million deaths that year. Those deaths include alcohol-related cancer and cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, intentional injury such as violence and self-harm, and traffic accidents and other unintentional injuries such as drowning and fires.

"The most surprising finding was that even small amounts of alcohol use contribute to health loss globally," said senior study author Emmanuela Gakidou, a professor at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. "We're used to hearing that a drink or two a day is fine. But the evidence is the evidence."

"This study is a stark reminder of the real, and potentially lethal, dangers that too much alcohol can have on our health and that even the lowest levels of alcohol intake increase our risks," Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners in the UK, said in a statement. She was not involved in the study.

University of Cambridge epidemiologist Steven Bell co-authored a separate study published in April in The Lancet that found drinking is beneficial in lowering the risk for heart attack. However, that study's big takeaway was that even one drink a day could shorten life expectancy; long-term reduction in alcohol use added one to two years to life expectancy at age 40.

He points out that his study looked only at drinkers, but the new research compared drinkers to non-drinkers in accessing risk and is one of the first to look at data from low- and middle-income countries.

"Based on these findings," Bell said, "at no point ... is there a level of consumption that appears to lower the overall risk of developing any of the wide array of diseases investigated in comparison to non-drinking.

"The take-home message being that people shouldn't drink under the belief that it will lower their risk of disease," he said, "and those of us who opt to drink should minimize our intake if we wish to prolong our life and well-being."


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